Politics

Ga. Lawmaker Aims To Block State Funding For ‘Sanctuary’ Campuses

State Represenate Earl Ehrhart says he's considering introducing a measure to block state funding for universities, including private universities, if they declare themselves "sanctuaries" for immigrant students without legal status.
State Represenate Earl Ehrhart says he's considering introducing a measure to block state funding for universities, including private universities, if they declare themselves "sanctuaries" for immigrant students without legal status.
Credit Ric Feld / Associated Press
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A Georgia lawmaker says he’s looking to pursue a measure to block state funding to universities that declare themselves “sanctuaries” for students without legal status.

State Rep. Earl Ehrhart, R-Powder Springs, said that’s in response to a group of students and faculty at Emory University last week calling for the school help protect students in the country without legal status, following the election of Donald Trump. While the school is a private university, he said the school has students who receive state grants.

“They’re welcome to do whatever they want, but there are consequences,” Ehrhart said. “If they completely ignore the statutes in this country and proceed with illegal behavior, then the taxpayers of the state of Georgia don’t need to be funding them.”

The term “sanctuary” has been defined in various ways but generally refers to cities or other jurisdictions that don’t fully cooperate with federal immigration officials.

“If they’re talking about providing ‘sanctuary,’ i.e. the ability to not be constrained under the laws of this country – whether its immigration law or a state law with respect to those types of activities — then if they break that law because of their pro-sanctuary status, at that point, they would lose the funds,” Ehrhart said.

The group of students and faculty in their letter asked the university, among other requests, to ensure federal immigration enforcement officials won’t arrest people on campus in regards to immigration enforcement and increase resources for pro-bono legal services to help students with their immigration cases.

“As a matter of policy, ICE already does not conduct enforcement at educational institutions in accordance with its sensitive locations policy,” said Bryan Cox , spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The policy includes exceptions, including if prior approval is given from a senior agency official.

Emory University, in a statement Tuesday, said the school “follows all federal laws and policies and will continue to do so,” and the administration is evaluating the petition sent by students and faculty.

In the statement, it said Emory uses private, non-governmental resources to offer scholarships to students with DACA, or the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program for students who were brought to the country as children.

“We believe there is much we can do at Emory by working together and in partnership with other organizations and our elected officials to help all of our community members flourish,” Emory said.

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